NAIROBI October 6 – Eight Kenyans who were sent to detention in Ethiopian jails for two years over suspicion of terrorist links have now given the Kenyan government seven days to admit liability for their incarceration or face legal action.,
Their lawyer Mbugua Mureithi has written to Attorney General Amos Wako demanding that the State admits it was responsible for violating their constitutional rights through rendition (handing over) to Ethiopia after they were reportedly arrested at the Somalia border.
Salim Awadh, Hassan Shaban Mwazume, Kassim Mwarusi, Ali Mwarusi, Bashir Hussein, Mohamed Chirag, Abdalla Tondwe, Swaleh Tunnza and Said Mohammed claim that they were forcibly removed from Kenya without lawful excuse.
Mr Mureithi wants the AG to direct the Police Commissioner, Major General Hussein Ali to order investigations against the officers who were responsible for the rendition of the eight men.
“Removing a Kenyan citizen forcibly and against their consent from the jurisdiction of this country amounts to kidnapping under the Kenyan law,” Mr Mureithi argued and added that they had not committed any offences in Kenya or elsewhere.
“They were subjected to both physical and mental torture by the Kenya police by being thoroughly assaulted whilst in their custody, detained incommunicado; being moved to various police stations whilst blindfolded and were ultimately forcibly flown from the country in the inhuman conditions by being blindfolded, handcuffed from the back and manacled to the aircraft seats whilst being taunted by the police escort,” their letter reads in part.
Mr Mureithi also stated that while in custody, the eight Kenyans were tortured by various interrogators comprising officers of the Somalia Transitional Federal Government, Ethiopian Military, the Federal Bureau of Investigations , British and Israeli officers who allegedly assaulted and taunted them that they were Al Qaeda terrorists destined to go and die at the American Naval base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Among the rights and freedoms listed are: a violation of the fundamental right not to be held in police custody without charge for a period longer than 24 hours; personal liberty as contained in the Kenyan constitution and freedom from torture.
The eight were brought back into the country early on Saturday when they were airlifted to Voi from Moyale and escorted to their various homes.
The suspects who the government insists would remain under ‘a watchful eye’ were in detention in Somalia between January 27 and February 10, 2007 before being transferred to Ethiopia.
The lawyer has also cited two airlines which purportedly colluded with government officials to facilitate the rendition.
Mr Mureithi insists that the two airline companies, African Express Airways and Bluebird Aviation Limited will have to answer about their role.
Meanwhile, the Government through Spokesman Dr Alfred Mutua denied any underhand or religious witch-hunt against the Muslim community.
“The activism group National Muslims Leaders Forum should realise that the fight against terrorism is not based on religion but criminal behaviour. The organisation should be in the fore-front supporting the Government and not criticising it for its work to make Kenya safe. By constantly appearing to support people accused of terrorism, the organisation can be mistaken to support terrorists and terrorism,” Dr Mutua said in statement on his website.